Broken For the Mission

One of my favorite activities is family movie night. All six of us get in our comfy clothes, settle in, snuggle up, snack it up, and just enjoy being together in an intentional pit stop amidst our normally overflowing daily schedules. Recently, we watched a remake of the classic Pilgrim’s Progress.

Later that night, I heard some whimpering from where our two boys were sleeping. As I checked on the boys, I noticed that our seven-year-old son, Isaiah, was visibly upset. As I consoled him, he said, “Dad, I’m really sad that not everyone will go to heaven, because I don’t want anyone to have to go to hell.” In that moment, God used the genuineness and compassion of my son's heart to both encourage and convict me.

I was deeply moved and encouraged by his love of God and care for others. I was incredibly convicted because I wondered when the last time that same concern moved me to tears. Do I care deeply for the lost? Absolutely. Do I pray, preach, teach and work fervently to share the Gospel with them? Certainly. Was my heart truly continually broken for them? Honestly, probably not always. Suddenly, Isaiah wasn’t the only one crying in the room. I repented to the Lord at that moment for so much time and energy spent trying to maintain the church instead of allowing myself to be broken by the true evangelistic mission of the church.

I repented to the Lord at that moment for so much time and energy spent trying to maintain the church instead of allowing myself to be broken by the true evangelistic mission of the church.

While the Covid pandemic, political instability, racial tension, financial uncertainty, and so much more have generated a new and difficult reality over this past year, it has also produced incredible new Gospel opportunity. Those without an authentic relationship with the Lord are not just over there on the other side of the world, but they are right here: our neighbors, co-workers, workout partners, classmates, family, and friends. As the Holy Spirit worked to refresh my heart, renew my mind, and reset my priorities, He both encouraged and exhorted my heart with three questions that I pray are as helpful for you as they have been for me.

God's Kingdom, or Mine?

The passions of our hearts drive the priorities of our lives. Scripture declares with absolute clarity that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). As we evaluate our own priorities, is that same desire clearly our passion? When it comes to being a bold Gospel witness, do I fall more into the category of, “Follow me as I follow Christ,” or, “Do as I say not as I do”? Are my jeans worn at the knees because of cries of fervent desperation for God to seek and save the lost in my neighborhood and the nations? Am I living with an attitude that fearfully hoards God’s resources internally or a heart of faith that deploys and sends God’s resources locally, regionally, and globally? If I say I’m passionate about all people being saved, do my calendar, energy, spending, and talent allocation authentically reflect that?

If I say I'm passionate about all people being saved, do my calendar, energy, spending, and talent allocation reflect that?

What needs to change so our walk matches our talk?

Mobilizing or Maintaining?

When it comes to God’s mission, trusting in God’s sovereignty doesn’t excuse me from personal responsibility. God is looking for action not apathy, conviction not complacency, and obedience not abdication. If Satan can’t destroy us (and boy is he trying hard to do that) he will go to significant lengths to distract, discourage, disrupt and disunify us as believers. The last 12 months have demonstrated that powerfully. That distraction often leads to mission abdication. We focus on fighting to maintain instead of faithfully mobilizing. Fear often leads us to spend disproportional energy on income preservers at the expense of mobilizing disciple-makers. While this past year has changed many of our methods, it hasn’t changed our mission. The same God who built each of our churches is still building His church. The same God who was faithful then is still faithful now.

May we rest in the promise of our Lord that “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:32-33). Friend, pastor, brother, sister, may you rest today in the reality that God knows every single one of your practical needs. Every single one. He knows your personal needs, the needs of your family, community, and church. He cares about them more than you do, and He promises to provide for you. Our responsibility is to seek first His kingdom and trust Him with the rest. It is to mobilize, not maintain. Give, not hoard. It is to live a life of eternal faith amidst the onslaught of earthly fear. God promises He will meet all our needs. While God doesn’t always give extra, He always gives enough. In our dependence, we find our confidence.

Looking Up or Looking Down?

So much of our Christian walk is about perspective. If you’re like me, you’ve probably spent many a sleepless night, and worry-filled day, focusing on what you feel like you don’t have instead of drawing peace and anchoring hope in what you know you do have these past 12 months. Anxiety flows from a heart focused on self and not looking up at our Savior.

I love the words of Jesus to his disciples in John when he tells them, “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for the harvest” (John 4:35). How many of us are waiting until masks are no longer needed, the pandemic has subsided, or social distancing is a page in the history books to re-engage fully in God’s mission? Jesus is telling us today to look up and see. See that the harvest is now and not later. See the opportunity and not just the obstacle. Embrace the urgency, claim Christ’s victory, and share the Gospel faithfully. People are open to respond in faith if we are willing to share our faith. We must take our eyes off ourselves and put them onto our Savior. We must stop saying “Woe is me!” and start proclaiming, “Worthy is He”!

How do we live broken for the mission? Do what you can with what you have. Pray fervently for the opportunity and respond faithfully, generously, and open-handedly. Mow your neighbor’s lawn, and ask them how you can pray for them. Start an in-person or zoom lunchtime Bible study with co-workers (you might be surprised who attends). Be intentional to share stories of God’s faithfulness to others. Invite someone not just to church with you but to study God’s Word with you. Text someone who you haven’t seen in a while and let them know you are thinking about them and praying for them. Live as God’s ambassador and allow God to make His appeal through you (2 Corinthians 5:20). As we faithfully give God our availability, God continually empowers us with His ability. As we surrender our hearts fully to God in worship, God will use our lives faithfully to accomplish His mission.

More by Dan Hammer

The Special Sauce of Leadership
As leaders, whether in the church or the corporate world, we are always looking for that special sauce to foster unity on our staff or that silver bullet...
Go Deeper (5 min read)

A Spiritual War is All Around Us, so Get in the Fight
Whether it is cultures that are clashing, a nation that is invading, an insurrection that is occurring, or genocide that is happening, war is a part of our...
Go Deeper (6 min read)

Recovering Reverence
Culture and circumstances come and go as they continually change and evolve. However, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). For that reason and...
Go Deeper (5 min read)